AN: By many, many, requests, here is Lucius' moment of realization. Hope you enjoy!
It was February.
He had never liked February. The days were normally short, though brightening towards the evenings as the sun set ever later, but it still felt later than he would ever have liked. The magic of the holidays and of the New Year were long gone by February, along with any sense of mystery and wonder, and the days simply felt short, dank, and gloomy. Even Narcissa, aside from her customary joy around Valentine's Day, slipped into silent reserve towards the end of the month. Even so, this February, things were unusually severe.
Lord Riddle had told him very little about a certain Voldemort, though the figure loomed large in their community consciousness. As strongly as Lord Riddle denied any connection, Lucius could not ignore the fact that Voldemort, as the creature called himself, bore distinct resemblances to Lord Riddle. That was a thought that could not be admitted, of course – Lord Riddle was strangely sensitive about it.
"Think of Voldemort as my … mistaken brother," was the most that Lord Riddle had ever said about that.
Still, the presence of Voldemort loomed large in the SOW Party's minds. Some of their Party, Lucius suspected, had already defected to the new, revolutionary, group – Dolohov had been most frank about it, but he had a niggling suspicion that the Lestranges, too, would soon be making their move. The division was not an easy one, and given the … attacks that had begun over the autumn, times were increasingly uncertain.
Lucius, however, kept faith in Lord Riddle. He had come to power as Lord Riddle's right hand man and his most trusted advisor – he did not, could not, believe that any monster of a relative would best the strongest wizard and most calculating political mind of the millennium. The safest place would be beside his side, and it was in this context, and with an eye to a life debt that hung in the balance between the Malfoys and a certain Rigel Black, that he brought the matter up. Lord Riddle was in a grim mood, but then, he always was these days.
"My Lord, about Rigel Black…" he began.
"What about the … boy?" Lord Riddle looked at him sharply, but Lucius did not miss the cadence of his words. Something was not as it should be.
Lucius chose his words carefully. "Only that, my lord, the boy is powerful and has unfortunate Muggle connections. While Draco is trying to bring him further into our fold, I am … uncertain that this could be accomplished without considerable efforts. Perhaps, if I could be so bold, if he and his extended family were offered … protection, during these times, it may … encourage him towards the Party in the future."
It did not sound so bad as that, really. Rigel Black was powerful, and Lord Riddle had long expressed an interest in taking the boy under his tutelage, in bringing the boy into Party circles. It was, therefore, a surprise when Lord Riddle simply quirked his head to one side, an odd sort of smile hanging over his lips.
"Forget the boy," Lord Riddle said, after a long, strange, moment. "I tire of waiting for him to come to his senses, and we have other problems to attend to. What has Narcissa learned of Bellatrix's inclinations?"
It was unlike Lord Riddle to simply dismiss something out of impatience. Rather, as a politician, Lord Riddle had waited years for many of his plans to come to fruition – for him to simply say he no longer cared about the boy after only a paltry few years at this attempt was, indeed, quite out of character.
Lucius was missing something.
It took months of thinking, of careful questioning of his son, before Lucius worked it out. The first clue Lucius was Lord Riddle's strange emphasis on the word "boy" – as if he had considered saying something else, but interrupted himself before it could happen. What else was he intending on saying? There must have been something odd about Rigel being a boy.
Draco had mentioned that Rigel was odd. Rigel slept in his clothes and was unusually repressed about touch, odd given Lord Black's propensity for physical contact. Was Rigel hiding something about his body? Was Rigel, in fact, not a boy? And yet, that, too, would not make any sense – daughters were prized in pure-blooded families, being as they were few, and there was no reason for the Blacks, with the standing they still possessed, to feel the need to have a daughter masquerade as a son. That, too, would be out of character for Lord Black, who notoriously doted on the Potter daughters as much as his own son. And, if there was something else physiologically wrong with the boy, it did not show, and it would not lead to the odd use of the word boy unless it was something so intrinsic about gender that…
Really, what other interpretation was there? Lord Riddle had as much as said it. Rigel Black was not a boy. Given the probabilities of options other than boy and girl, Lucius would be willing to bet that, therefore, Rigel Black was a girl. However, as Narcissa had confirmed, there was no reason for the Black family to conceal the birth of a daughter and force their child to grow up as a son, unless Sirius himself had inherited the family madness, and since Sirius seemed to be perfectly in possession of his faculties otherwise, he found that unlikely. There was also the fact that Rigel acted differently when with his father, as compared to all other times Lucius had interacted with him. The earnest flirt of a child that Rigel displayed was nowhere in sight normally. Between those two pieces of information, Lucius found it likelier that Rigel Black was a boy, and that, therefore, this Rigel Black, who was not a boy, was therefore not one and the same as Arcturus Rigel Black, Heir of the House of Black.
That only left the question of exactly who this Rigel Black actually was. And, of all the possible questions, this one was actually the easiest.
Who knew Draco well enough to step into the shoes of her cousin during the Quidditch World Cup last year? Who possessed the skill to develop the shaped imbuing technique and the potion that had allowed them to escape the damaged stadium without being trampled? Who, indeed, looked oddly similar to her pure-blooded cousin, Arcturus Rigel Black, and shared so many of the same skills, knowledge, and talent? Harriet Potter, half-blood and Heir to the House of Potter, fit the bill a little too closely.
The only question now, he supposed, what was he should do about it.
It was obvious that Lord Riddle had already worked this out – he had no idea how, but then, there was a reason Lord Riddle was one of the most brilliant minds of the century. And if Lord Riddle knew about it, and had done nothing, that meant that he had his own plans for this matter.
Lucius was not inclined to disturb his Lord's plans, and that left doing anything particularly active out of the question. This information was, however, still useful – all he needed to do was tell Rigel that he knew, and Rigel would almost certainly use that life debt to keep him silent, and that would be it. There was no good reason not to confront Rigel – Harriett – about it quietly – there was only the ability to get his House, his family, out of a life debt.
Blood before honour.
And yet, just as he was setting his quill to parchment, he stopped.
If his suppositions were true, which he believed quite likely they were, then that meant that Harriett Potter was powerful. Perhaps the most powerful witch this century. And Harriett Potter was best friends with his son, Draco Malfoy. While, once, that would have been a reason to separate them, now, in this current climate…
Perhaps it would be better to wait, and see. As troublesome as it was, Harriett's power would be a strong shield for Draco.
Blood before honour, and while this life debt hung over them, Harriett was to be treated as blood, and if this meant extra protection for Draco, then so much the better.
He set his quill down and slid the parchment, empty save a blot of ink, back into his writing desk.
AN: Thank you everyone for reading and for your encouraging reviews! As always, happy to read your reviews and happy to receive some constructive criticism. With Lucius, I think the main difficulty is that he has fewer clues than most of the others, so I had to invent some plausible ones. Then, of course, I had to get over the hurdle of "But what would he do and how would Harriett get around it?!" because of course if he told her, Harry would just use her life debt, and that is actually an advantage for him to be able to control the nature of her request... An interesting thought experiment, and interested to see how you all think I managed it!